Samsung takes aim at blood pressure monitoring with the Galaxy Watch Active
Samsung has launched a new smartwatch that might just take the health and wellness capabilities of the common wearable into new territory. In addition to standard features like sleep and heart rate tracking, the company claims its new Galaxy Watch Active will be able to keep tabs on blood pressure, promising a more complete picture of health taken from the user's wrist.
Unveiled amid the fanfare of its first folding phone, the Galaxy Watch Active is a sport-oriented wristwatch with a 40-mm-diameter (1.57-in) face bearing a 1.1-inch (28-mm) color display coated in Gorilla Glass 3. The 20-mm (0.8 in) swappable straps bring the total weight to 25 g (0.9 oz), while available colors are silver, black, rose gold and sea green.
The Galaxy Watch Active runs Samsung's Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0 and is powered by a 230 mAh battery, which is less than half that of a large-sized Galaxy Watch. Also onboard is 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal memory. Compatible with both Android and iOS devices, the Galaxy Watch Active runs useful third-party apps such as Spotify, Under Armour and Strava, and also supports voice control via Samsung's Bixby assistant.
Fans of Samsung's Smartwatches so far will note the omission of the rotating bezel, which we've found to be a very intuitive way to scroll through screens and text on its earlier timepieces.
But blood pressure data is where the Galaxy Watch Active may bring something new to the table. We say "may" because the feature is still in beta and only available in five countries. From March 15, owners in the US, Singapore, Australia, Canada and Germany will be able to download the company's My BP Lab app, which was developed with researchers from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
There's not a whole lot of detail just yet on how this will work, but the Galaxy Watch Active is the first from Samsung to carry such a claim. The Apple Watch can offer this functionality but requires a third-party connected device such as the QardioArm smart blood pressure monitor, which plays with the wearable via a dedicated Apple Watch app. The Omron Heartguide watch, which launched at CES last month, is billed as the first FDA-approved smartwatch capable of monitoring blood pressure in the US.
Dovetailing with this functionality is the inclusion of guided breathing exercises designed to promote focus and keep stress levels in check. On the activity side of things, meanwhile, Samsung says the watch will automatically detect when its owner is running, cycling, rowing or using an elliptical trainer.
Samsung launched a couple of other wearables alongside its new Galaxy Watch Active. The first is a slimmer wrist-worn activity tracker called the Galaxy Fit that syncs with a smartphone to track activity across 90 different types of workouts, along with sleep monitoring, Both the Galaxy Fit and Galaxy Watch Active are feature a 5ATM water resistance rating.
The other item is a set of Galaxy wireless earbuds offering up to six hours of playtime over Bluetooth 5.0 and fast wireless charging when placed in either the small carry case or against new Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone. These also offer Bixby support for voice control over calls and texts or to check in on the battery life.
Both the Galaxy buds and the Galaxy Watch Active will be available from March 8, and priced at US$200 and $130 respectively. The Galaxy buds will actually come free with pre-orders for the new Galaxy S10 or Galaxy S10+ for a limited time, while the Galaxy Fit will become available sometime in the second quarter of 2019.